Porter is hardly the lawyer he set out to be. His most promising client is a low-rent call girl and he runs his fledgling law practice out of a dingy strip mall. But he's long since made peace with not living the American Dream and carefully tucked away his darkest sins: the guns, the FBI file, the trial that nearly destroyed him.
Houston, Texas, 1981. It is here that Jay believes he can make a fresh start. That is, until the night in a boat out on the bayou when he impulsively saves a woman from drowning - and opens a Pandora's box. Her secrets put Jay in danger, ensnaring him in a murder investigation that could cost him his practice, his family, and even his life. But before he can get to the bottom of a tangled mystery that reaches into the upper echelons of Houston's corporate power brokers, Jay must confront the demons of his past.
With pacing that captures the reader from the first scene through an exhilarating climax, Black Water Rising marks the arrival of an electrifying new talent.
©2009 Attica Locke; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
I downloaded this after hearing Attica Locke talk about her why she began it. The atmospheric, gripping opening, showing her skills from being a film and television writer for over ten tears prior to writing this book, sets the scene for the ?thriller? side of the book. However there is more to this novel. Some people may engage with it accordingly, as I did, but some may feel the book drags in places or may even lose interest in it. It seems to have been born from a mediation on how Attica Locke?s parents changed from being involved in the civil rights movement, to becoming successful middle class professionals, somehow ?forgetting? the struggles of their younger selves, and ceased to continue fighting for the rights of those still without a chance because of the colour of their skin. The book is set in Houston,Texas in the 1980?s, and in the backstory the 1970?s. For me, White British and born in the 1960?s, this gave a fascinating and involving history lesson. The politics of the two decades form the identity of the main character; who he is, and therefore why he thinks and does what he does in the intertwined mystery of the main plot. On a broader canvas this is a book about how we all change in our lives; we lose or alter our ideals and, for good or for bad, how we deal with that fact. I have a few minor complaints, but find they are overshadowed by the strengths, and indeed potential strengths (although she is a writer this is her first novel) of the writing. Aside from the historical and political aspects, Attica Locke gave me a vivid sense of the characters of the people, including the bit players, and the places which they inhabit. She can also be disarmingly funny. What is also great about this as a listening experience is Dion Graham?s gorgeously rich voice giving the true sound of Houston, something I would have not experienced reading the page. I found this book succeeds in being involving, entertaining and thought provoking.
Nothing in this book was ever just itself. Everything was 'like' something else. it became very tiring. The plot was unrealistic and the female characters were all cyphers (preganant wife, career woman, bad girl made good). I did finish it, which is more than I can say for some books, so a two star rather than a one star.
"Promising Young Writer"
After listening to Attica Locke's excellent 2nd mystery, "The Cutting Season," I went back to try this one, her first. ""Black Water Rising" is completely different - more of the noir school, which is usually not my favorite sort of mystery.
But this is good! Really good. Set in 1980's Houston, "Black Water Rising" is just as atmospheric and dangerous as the title suggests. Our main character has a past in the black-power movement, and that affects just about his every thought and act. He's now burned and disillusioned and determined to avoid trouble and politics, but he keeps getting pulled back in, sometimes simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The book is very much from his point of view. There are other characters of interest (I wish we knew more about his wife's thoughts and feelings, for example), but Jay Porter definitely carries the book well. There's lots of action and suspense, and all the diverse and complicated plot lines come together in believable ways. I was completely drawn into this world.
This narrator is flat out wonderful! His voice is pure velvet and adds a lot to the experience.
"Compelling period story"
I enjoyed this book so much that I checked back to see if there were any other books available by Attica Locke, and happened to read the review from August 9. I felt compelled to respond. It may be that the reviewer was not alive during the time the story took place, so could not relate to the historical context and issues, or was so familiar with them that they needed no explanation. Either way I suppose that this means that the author failed in making the period seem real for that reviewer in her fiction. By the same token, it may be that I found the story immensely compelling for the reason that I was a young teenager at that time, and the events, people, issues and context of the time are alive and well in my sub-conscious, though I paid little enough attention to them at the time. I thought the political movements, labor union issues and “other stuff” added context and weight to the plot, and the book would have been lightweight without them. I thought the book superb, and I hope that readers are not put off this book by that review.
"A Remarkable Story Teller"
It started out with one of the best first chapters I have ever read. I was hooked immediately. The setting is 1981 in Houston, TX. The main character, Jay Porter, is a young black lawyer just scraping by with small jobs. His father-in-law gets Jay involved with the representation of the black harbor workers that vote to go on strike. There is some conflict with the separate white union. This is a complex story that has some back and forth in Jay's history, but it all comes together to make the story more complete. For her first book, Attica Locke is a very accomplished story teller with pacing and fun dialog. I must also point out that this story has a theme of racism running through it that rings true to the time and circumstances. If Attica is named after Atticus Finch, she is living up to her name.
This is not your standard mystery / thriller, but the story is compelling and scary at times. I found the story very credible and some of the political back story was very timely with our political and financial situation today. I was constantly thinking about the story when I didn't have time to listen. I couldn't wait to hear what happened next.
I recognized Dion Graham from some of his acting roles, especially in one of my favorite series, "The Wire". He did a wonderful job with the narration and made the main character, Jay Porter, come to life in my mind.
I never buy actual books anymore, but I had to add a first edition hard copy of this book to my library because this new author is going to be a huge success as she gets more books in front of readers. I can't wait to read the next book by Attica Locke.
"Compelling Blend of Race, Politics, and History"
I loved the blending of historical and political perspectives. Jay's struggles and worries were compelling. The characters had debth and I really liked the reality of his relationship with his wife.
Dion gave Jay's turmoil and fears life... He lifted up Jay's pride in being an organizer and belonging to something greater than himself. He did a great job leading us through the many turns of this story.
I wanted more... more... more. I wish there was a bit more story to wrap up the path Jay takes at the end.
"Best of both social history and mystery"
The best thing about a good mystery is how patterns start to emerge from the stew of details; the best thing about a social history is how a seemingly small and insignificant event can be shown as crucial to larger historical processes. This book delivers both.
And what an amazing reader!
"Well written suspence"
This is a well written suspenseful novel. I was engaged form the first page to the last. I will now seek out other books by this author.
The story of survivors of the civil rights movement must be told. This tale is more than a mystery. It is tells the reclamation of a man's dignity after tumult of life and the civil rights movement. I enjoyed this story very much.
"man on a mission"
very intriguing, keep in suspended to the end, the loose ends kept me wanting more.
Exciting reading.with an interesting frame story in black civil rights movement. The reading performance is over all good. Even though he screams a bit loud from time to time.
I really enjoyed the description of the racial struggles in Houston, and Texas in general. very interesting. At times I wondered how Jay could miss a certain angle and thought that 4he link between different story lines was uncessesarily convoluted. and I could not be more annoyed with the music at the end of each chapter. terrible idea.
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